No position is more unpredictable in fantasy football than kickers. Year after year after year, no position has a lower correlation between where they're drafted before the season and where they finish after the season. No position has a lower correlation between how they score in one week and how they score in the next. No position has a lower correlation between projected points and actual points.
In addition, placekicker is the position that has the smallest spread between the best players and the middle-of-the-pack players for fantasy. Finally, most fantasy GMs will only carry one kicker at a time, which means there are a dozen or more starting kickers sitting around on waivers at any given time. Given all of this, it rarely makes sense to devote resources to the position. Instead, GMs are best served by rotating through whichever available kicker has the best weekly matchup.
Every week, I'll rank the situations each kicker finds himself in (ignoring the talent of the kicker himself) to help you find perfectly startable production off the waiver wire.
Week 1 Results
Robbie Gould (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 5 XPs, 11 points)
It's always nice to come out of the gate hot, as Gould had a great day as our first "top recommendation" of the season. Even with a missed field goal, Gould's 11 points were 2nd-most in the league last week, trailing only Houston's Joey Slye (who, per NFL.com stats, was the 35th-most-rostered kicker in a sport that only features 32 teams).
Matt Gay (2 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 4 XPs, 10 points)
Our other "Great Play" of the week, Gay had another really strong showing. His 10 points tied for 5th at the position.
Michael Badgley (1 FG attempt, 0 FGs, 1 XP, 1 point)
Sam Ficken was technically our third recommendation, but the Titans placed Ficken on injured reserve the day before their game and signed Michael Badgley to replace him. As I always say, these rankings are talent-agnostic and apply equally to whoever winds up kicking for the team, so Badgley fills in here, too. While it'd be nice to blame this poor showing on Badgley (who missed a field goal and an extra point), the main culprit was the Titans offense, which got manhandled by the Cardinals' defensive line. Badgley also lost a potential field goal attempt when the offense attempted to convert 4th-and-5 from the Cardinals 34, which is always a risk for kickers whose teams are getting blown out and the reason why we penalize kickers on teams that are big underdogs. Badgley finished the week a disappointing 30th.
Greg Joseph (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 3 XPs, 6 points)
Joseph hit a 53-yarder as time expired to send his team to overtime, but missed out on a chance to kick the game-winner (and add to his total) when Dalvin Cook fumbled in Bengals territory. His 6 points tied for 19th on the week.
Aldrick Rosas (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 5 XPs, 8 points)
It's been rare in this column's history for streamers to get a chance at New Orleans' kicker as he's usually rostered in significantly more than 50% of fantasy leagues, but skepticism after Drew Brees' retirement and an injury to regular kicker Wil Lutz created an opportunity. The Saints offense was rolling with the only possible complaint being too many touchdowns and not enough field goals, but even kicking mostly extra points, Rosas' 8 points were enough for a 14th-place finish.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 5 weekly recommendations. Those 5 kickers have averaged 7.20 points, compared to 7.39 in 2020 and 7.65 in 2019. That average would currently rank 17th at the position. Our top weekly recommendation averages 11 points, while every highlighted kicker with a great matchup averages 10.5, which would rank 5th.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Harrison Butker (9 points), Justin Tucker (9 points), Younghoe Koo (6 points), Greg Zuerlein (11 points), Tyler Bass (10 points), Ryan Succop (7 points), Jacob Sanders (5 points), Rodrigo Blankenship (4 points), Jason Myers (4 points), Matt Gay (10 points), Brandon McManus (9 points), and Matt Prater (8 points). Despite the extra draft capital expenditure, only one of these kickers outperformed the average of our highlighted "Great Plays". The twelve kickers average 7.66 points, which trails the average of "Great Plays" that were available on waivers (10.5 points).
A Note From a Reader
A long-time reader wrote in last week to tell me that his league host (NFL.com) allows him to drop players on his bench even after their game has been played. As a result, he likes to drop his kicker every week and use the roster spot on a backup player from the Thursday Night game. If the starter gets hurt, his backup increases substantially in value. If the starter doesn't get hurt, he can then cut his backup and replace him with the best kicker available on waivers.
I always applaud outside-of-the-box thinking like this. If your league host allows you to drop players who have already played, this is a great way to wring an extra little advantage out. Even in leagues where that's not possible (which is most leagues), though, you can still spend most of the week with no kicker on your roster to try to make the most of your limited roster spots. For instance, if there's a situation where we don't know whether a player will be healthy enough to go this week, you could carry his backup all week. If the player winds up playing, you can drop the backup on Sunday and grab a kicker right before kickoff. If the player is out, however, you can keep the backup and drop someone else for your kicker.
We publish Rent-a-Kicker early in the week so that anyone who wants to grab a kicker during the waiver wire run can do so, but that doesn't mean you must do so. That's why I give a full list of all 32 team situations. Often the options available Sunday morning are as good as the ones available Thursday afternoon, so if you want to try to squeeze every last drop of value out of your bench spots, you're free to do so.
Week 2 Situations
**Since streaming kickers is so popular and rostered players can vary across leagues, here is a list of how favorable every kicker's situation is based on Vegas projected totals and stadium. Quality plays who are on waivers in over 50% of leagues based on NFL.com roster percentages are italicized and will be highlighted in next week's column. Also, note that these rankings are kicker-agnostic; teams will occasionally change kickers mid-week, but any endorsements apply equally to whatever kicker winds up eventually getting the start.**
**Nick Folk, NE
Greg Zuerlein, Dal
**Robbie Gould, SF
Brandon McManus, Den
Matt Gay, LAR
Justin Tucker, Bal
Chris Boswell, Pit
Greg Joseph, Min
Michael Badgley, Ten
Cairo Santos, Chi
Tyler Bass, Buf
Aldrick Rosas, NO
Avoid at All Costs